Consider this: A letter to myself


In line with my last article, I went to see “Dear Evan Hansen” with my sister in Chicago. It was a play that is more for the younger generation than mine, due to its social media theme.  However, there were many that were my age attending. I went to get more information on the theme so I could better discuss it with my grandchildren. Yes, I’m older than dirt as some would say. Yet I remember myself at that age and how down I was during my junior year in high school. That is until a classmate picked me up one night and we spent the rest of it talking, which brought me out of my funk.

Then it started me thinking about my mother who passed in the earlier part of this year. What kind of woman was she? What was taught to me since I didn’t have a father to steer and guide me through puberty? So, I thought that I should share the traits she taught so that some of you may be able to see them in yourselves. Some of you may even  be following these kinds of behaviors in your present lives.

So here it goes, my letter to myself concerning what I learned from my mom.

Dear Reed Harris:

It turns out that my day went as well as it could have. Much better that the ones I mentioned in high school. I was in a restaurant and when my server came by and asked if I would like a refill on my drink, I replied, “Yes, please.” It felt good. It was one of the many things my mother taught me always to do. And, of course, when that refill came, I said, “Thank you.” That felt good too. I thought, why would a simple gesture be so important? Why was it necessary?  Because it made me feel good. Because it put a smile on the server’s face. Because it was a very simple gesture, was natural after so many years, and didn’t take any effort although I didn’t care even if it did.

But I get ahead of myself already and don’t really want to miss anything. When we got to the restaurant, I helped my female companion with the chair she sat in. I got the simple reply of “Thanks.” Now this doesn’t appear to be a big deal either. Yet the word really came out as ‘Thanks!’ I immediately knew it was an important gesture.

Later in the day I went to Walmart and as I reached the front door, a young lady was reaching it at the same time, so I opened the door for her, and she said “Thanks” and I had that same feeling. For some reason, this remined me about the time I was picking up my future wife for a second date. I had injured my foot, so I was on crutches. Her apartment was on the second floor, it was snowing and cold, and had an outside staircase. I hobbled up those stairs to the landing and knocked on the door. She opened it and was wondering just what I was doing on crutches up there. I said, from the lesson I learned, “I was taught to always go to the door.”

When I was leaving Walmart, there was a line for the checkout. A mother and her two children were there ahead of me and waiting close by in another line. My line came free, and I said to this mother, “You were next.”  She also thanked me and after she was done checking out, thanked me again. Here were two more times that I felt good. When I checked out and got to my car, there was another mother who was having a time with her trunk lid. It was frozen shut.  I asked if I could help, and she said yes. I got it open and received another thank you.

Though I was feeling good receiving all these thank yous, I was also hoping that this meant that they were helped. Even if in a small way.

As I continue to write, I’m thinking that my day went great!  Much better than as well as it could. Simple gestures, thoughts for others, with no real effort, and my day ended perfect. All of this I was taught. Not to be simple, but simply be nice. Especially when it comes to women.  It is our privilege to show them, not that they are the weaker sex, not that they must have help, but that they are equals.

Yes, mom, you taught me well. Thank you!

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